Recognizing breast cancer awareness month

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, September 29, 2010

October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Since the program began in 1985, mammography rates have more than doubled for women age 50 and older, and breast cancer deaths have declined.

This is exciting progress, but there are still women who do not take advantage of early detection at all and others who do not get screening mammograms and clinical breast exams at regular intervals.

Here are a few interesting facts:

• Women age 65 and older are less likely to get mammograms than younger women, even though breast cancer risk increases with age.

• Hispanic women have fewer mammograms than Caucasian women and African American women.

• Women below poverty level are less likely than women at higher incomes to have had a mammogram within the past two years.

• Mammography use has increased for all groups except American Indians and Alaska Natives.

I know that there is someone in your family or someone that you know that has been affected by this disease. There are firefighters in St. John that have family members that have breast cancer. The fire department is going to recognize this month by wearing our duty shirts with pink lettering. We are also going to participate in the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure series on Oct. 23.

For more information about NBCAM, please visit For additional information on breast cancer in general, please call one of the following toll-free numbers: American Cancer Society, 800-227-2345; National Cancer Institute, 800 4-CANCE; Y-ME National Breast Cancer Organization, 800-221-2141.

Michael Heath is president of the St. John Professional Firefighters Association.